The government’s decision to extend the ban on evictions in England and Wales by a further two months has left victims of domestic violence and anti-social behaviour vulnerable to further suffering, according to the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
The extension will run from 25 June, the end of the three-month period originally announced as part of emergency coronavirus legislation in March.
But while the extension is likely to help renters that are suffering financial difficulty, it leaves landlords powerless to take action against tenants committing domestic abuse or making the lives of fellow tenants or neighbours a misery.
The NRLA argues that the ban goes against the spirit of a report by the then Victims Commissioner, Baroness Newlove, who warned last year that “victims of anti-social behaviour are being let down by police, local councils and housing providers”.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “Extending the evictions ban is not without victims. It leaves landlords powerless to tackle the kind of behaviour that causes untold suffering and hardship for many communities and tenants alike.”
Research last year by the University of Bristol found that 38% of victims of domestic abuse live in private rented housing, a higher proportion than any other tenure. The charity Refuge, which runs the Domestic Violence Helpline, has said that there has been a 66% increase in calls to the helpline during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In cases of domestic violence, landlords will often end the tenancy agreement and offer a fresh one, for the same property, to the victim independent of the abuser, and that is why the NRLA is now calling for the courts to deal urgently and swiftly with cases concerning anti-social behaviour and domestic violence when they are allowed to begin to hear repossession cases.
Beadle added: “These cases must be given top priority by the courts and their processes enhanced to avoid further delay once they start to deal with possession cases.”